When the kids were little Christmas morning was magical. Their excitement and the look on their faces when they saw the presents were moments I wished I could bottle and keep forever. As they grew into young adults, the holiday happiness was still there, but it wasn’t the same as the early years. When we travel together overseas, I get to see those same excited faces I once saw Christmas morning. Expressions that show awe because they are experiencing a different culture. Everything is new. Okay, except for Burger King and Dunkin Donuts, everything is new.
We strolled through the beautiful Copenhagen airport trying to take it all in. There’s something special about those first moments when you arrive in a new country. Excitement, exhaustion, confusion, all surging through your body at the same time. Suddenly every sign is interesting (Din Fart = slow down), and the sounds of other languages being spoken make you wish you had paid a little more attention in that high school foreign language class.
We crammed into our rental car with all our luggage and two wheelchairs, tried to figure out the GPS, and then got lost and ended up in Sweden. Don’t listen to my family if they say it was my fault for getting distracted from the printed directions upon seeing a giant Schnauzer with a basket in its mouth on a billboard. I’m a writer, an observer, following detailed directions is not my strength. Silly family, what were they thinking putting me in charge of finding Peter’s house.
Who’s Peter? Well, Peter owns a nice house with two friendly cats in Hellerup, a town right outside of Copenhagen. We found him on Airbnb. Peter put in a portable ramp for my daughter Arielle and even allowed us to borrow his bikes. I sat outside on his porch, sipping coffee, listening to the birds and church bells every morning. Peter was an excellent host, and we all enjoyed having a spacious house as our home base.
We toured Malmo Sweden, Copenhagen, and a spent a day in Skanderborg, Denmark. We saw Gogol Bordello in concert which was especially neat for me because I had put his song, Start Wearing Purple, on my playlist for my new novel. Little did I know at the time I’d get to hear them sing it live while standing in a crowd in Sweden holding a cup of hot chocolate to keep warm. Afterward, Arielle and I searched for an ATM so I could get Swedish money to buy us all Gogol shirts. Running up and down cobblestone streets trying to figure out what a Swedish sign for ATM looked like was one of those unexpected moments that will forever be imprinted in my mind much like the time in 2007 when we watched Evanescence on a muddy slope in the rain in Switzerland.
Copenhagen Street Food was one of my favorite places followed by Tivoli Gardens, the most peaceful amusement park I’ve ever been to. After everyone was done with rides we stretched out on the lawn with many others and enjoyed the afternoon sun. Europeans know how to relax whether at dinner or in a park there was a sense of enjoyment in just being. It was refreshing.
The morning of our last breakfast we were all quiet. There was still so much more to see and do. We could’ve stayed another week.
When we reached the airport, there was a boy about eight years old standing next to his mother on a platform waving goodbye to a man below. The young boy cried and cried. Tears filled my eyes. I knew the pain of goodbye too. Our vacation had come to an end and as soon as we returned home my daughter would leave for college. That’s why our family goes on adventures. We spend hours together, talking, exploring, eating, getting on each other’s nerves and then laughing again. We fill ourselves up with experiences that become memories that carry us through the times when we are apart.We leave our comfort zones and routines behind to rediscover the magic of life.2007 – Compassion in Action. Our family trip to Europe 2011 – Our trip to Barcelona 2011 – Accessible Barcelona 2013 – Our family vacation to California 2013 – Our family vacation to California Part II